06/4/2014

Scientists make progress on compound that could prevent Alzheimer’s

NEWS

Scientists reporting in a study published in the Annals of Neurology say that a new compound shows promise as potential treatment for helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Long before Alzheimer’s symptoms appear, clumps of amyloid beta protein start accumulating in the brain. That's why amyloid proteins have become a prime target for researchers looking for ways to prevent Alzheimer's. In 2012, a study found that 0.5 percent of people in Iceland carry a mutation that allows the brain to clear amyloid beta, which halves the production of the protein throughout their life. This slows the cognitive decline and allows these Icelanders to live longer than those without the mutation. Scientists think that a treatment that mimics this mutation could lead to a new way to prevent Alzheimer’s.

The study found that even low concentrations of 2-PMAP compound reduced the production of amyloid precursor protein (APP) – the mother protein to amyloid beta – in test cells by more than half.  Then researchers moved the experiment to an animal model. They found that 2-PMAP had the same effect on APP in the brains of mice engineered to have amyloid deposits similar to Alzheimer’s.

After five days of treatment, the amyloid beta levels in the brains of the mice were lowered, and after four months, the levels were sharply reduced, and prevented cognitive problems in those mice.

The compound seems to work by interfering with the APP gene transcript into the protein, which may make it safer than other compounds that have been tested as a way to lower amyloid beta. 

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